This week’s blog is about achievement and how different that feels in normal life versus mum life. I am immensely proud of my Girlies but changing a million nappies just isn’t the same as doing million pound deals. As always I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you enjoy the read, I would appreciate your shares and likes. Oh, don’t forget it’s Mothers Day in two weeks, check out my ludicrously self-indulgent list here for ideas and hints!
Husband came home yesterday and innocently asked “What did you do today baby?”. I nearly bit him. Not because he said it with malice or judgement, but because I had achieved nothing. Bugger all. I did a lot, but I achieved nothing. I didn’t want the answer to be “well I did two washloads, 2 and a half if you count the clean stuff I put away, I emptied the dishwasher, kept the babies alive, everyone was fed and watered. Oh and guess what? I bought some milk. What a hero!” Even thinking it makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out. I’m a career girl, an achiever. My career coach once called me a badge collector. Yep, I used to have a career coach. The only coach I see these days is the driving-past-kind and even then we call it a bus because I don’t know how to articulate the difference between a bus and a coach to a 2-year old.
The first 3 months after Girly no1 was born were an absolute whirlwind. Or a snowstorm. It was like I had been hit by a bus then driven over a few times. Getting out of bed, drying my hair and putting a coat of mascara and lip balm on felt like a genuine achievement. Making it to an appointment on time was like winning a BAFTA. I remember the midwife asking me what time I would like my goodbye appointment (technical name I’m sure) and offering 8 or 9am. My jaw dropped and I stumbled over my words. As if I could get out of the house with a dry and full baby at that time of day! “What do you have after 11?” I mumbled. My days were one mass of feeding and changing nappies and clothes that left no time for anything else. Husband picked up washing, tidying and cooking while I lurched from one sofa to the other looking like Worzel Gummidge and wearing eau de puke. My achievements were measured in the number of minutes my head could be in contact with my pillow and whether my baby and I managed to get any milk into her mouth via my Spacehopper boob that day. Eventually, around the four month mark, the fog, wind and snow started to clear and I settled into a new rhythm with my new baby. I was quite heavy on routine so predictable naps gave me time to get things done. Once I finished the True Blood box set and she started sleeping through, I started to do some things. Initially I was over-ambitious booking in two friends a day as well as trying to keep on top of the house. But after burnt dinners, smelly washloads and my persistent lateness for everything, I calmed it down. I made a deal with myself to use one of the naps to do something I wanted to do (like teaching myself how to do winged eyeliner – badly!) and the other one I would do something housey. I learnt to be proud if I did a washload or made dinner, and if I made one social thing or an appointment on time. I finally felt some sense of achievement, like I was re-gaining some control. By the fifth or sixth month, I was used to my new life. Then the niggle set in. I felt like I wasn’t really achieving anything, I was just going through the motions each day. But I went back to work and after a few months of figuring it all out, I was once again satisfied that I was moving forward. After briefly tipping over to the doing-too-much end again, I worked out the balance and really started to enjoy both parts of my life.
This time around, with Girly no2, I have taken a year off. I’m in the sixth month off work and ‘the niggle’ has kicked in. I am acutely aware of the transition from running multi-million pound businesses to bouncing two soggy small people on my knees, the biggest challenge now being bouncing one child so vigorously that she is thrown to the floor in a heap of giggles whilst the other is bounced enough to keep her quiet but not so much so that her head falls off. There is no getting away from the fact that this time last year, I won £30 million pound contract; today I went to a soft play for 90 minutes with a slight hangover and I didn’t kill anyone. This time last year I successfully coached someone into a senior manager role; this week I taught my baby to growl like the kid in the Exorcist. The achievements are incomparable! I am not saying that their achievements are nonsense, they are things that make my heart burst. It is almost impossible to put into words the glory and elation that comes from watching your little person sing a whole song from beginning to end. Or the first time they tell you (the truth) about their day and who knocked over their tower (who is this Amy character?!). Or when they finish a jigsaw puzzle that you previously had to help them with. It’s not the same as your personal achievements because these ones are wrapped in pride and a love that you don’t get from anything else. It makes your chest ache. It makes you smile uncontrollably, those ones that creep up through your jaw. But, and there is a but, it’s not the same as achieving things for yourself. And I need that.
This time, I am handling my niggle differently. I opted to take 12 months off so that I could be with Girly no2 and Girly no1, they’re both so young and they need their Mummy. A lot! I am sometimes keeping on top of the house, and sometimes achieving something for myself (this blog!) but I am very conscious of the Girlies not just being on a list of things to check off. When I’ve stopped breast feeding I will take an afternoon to work on my own things while Husband has the girls, I’ll continue learning to code, maybe even write a book! The rest of the time though, I will be with them, play with them and I will indulge in their achievements. There will be time in the future for me to continue to satisfy my needs. 12 months is a really short time and we all know how quickly it goes by. So the next time Husband asks “what did you do today?” Instead of biting him, I will tell the truth with pride. I did bugger all, Husband. Bugger all.